Papa’s Diary Project

New blog discovery! Blogging grandpa’s 1924 diary. Matt Unger (grandson) transcribes Harry Scheurman (his grandfather)’s diary. An entry a day, a post a day. Plus commentary. [via Digitization 101] Another example of A small daily task that I mentioned in my Letters in the Attic post.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 31, 2007 in • Cool WebsiteHistoryMemorabilia
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Family Visiting Headaches thanks to Digital Tools

At a family gathering, an internet cafe: “I wasn’t a house host anymore, I was running a Kinko’s. […] with a house brimming with guests, a cousin cornered me in my office with a multimedia challenge. She had brought a DVD made from family movies shot in the early 1930s. I was able to play it on my computer, but I ran aground trying to make a copy of it.”

Uh oh, I recognize myself there!

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Digitality
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Oral History OF the silver screen

Archive of American Television: “The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation’s Archive of American Television makes many of its more than 500 video oral history interviews available free online. This site helps you navigate through TV history – as told by those who were there.” Just looking down the sidebar is great. There are several interviews with Julia Child.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 30, 2007 in • Online Oral History Collections
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Double shot macchiato Oral History

Starbucks will sell oral history book. The David Isay StoryCorps history book, “Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Lives From the StoryCorps Project” It goes on sale Nov 8. (hooray hooray, I saw that David Isay is coming to my local independent bookstore this fall. Yay!)

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 29, 2007 in • BooksOral history in the news
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Online site for storing family trees

I began playing around with a new online site– Oh the irony. This, after the scraping you-know-what hit the fan. I’d been thinking about this step last week, though, while I read my letters in the attic– I want to know how old everyone is at the time the letter was written. begins dead simple. Start filling out information. A look at their Terms of Service emphasizes privacy, privacy, privacy. From what I’ve seen thus far, they get it. (Note: I met people from at the Genealogy Jamboree; they gave me the coolest swag ever– a pen that lights up)

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Genealogy
(0) CommentsPermalink scrapes websites; places harvested content behind membership wall gets the BAD netizen of the Day (week? month?) award. The site scrapes data from websites, plunks it into their databases, and offers it – behind its paywall membership wall – to users.

Bloggers covering this story: The Genealogue, Kimberly Powell at Kinexxions, Cow Hampshire Genea-Musings, Untangled Family Roots, Ancestories, Jessica’s Gene JournalCreative Gene, and Craig Manson.

Janice at Cow Hampshire has a good discussion about commercial use and examines’s text describing their subscription-based service.

Becky Wiseman at Kinexxions provides screenshots and a walk-through of the method in which the ripped-off data is presented:

The “Internet Biographical Collection” jumped out at me. Notice the padlock? I clicked on that link, but this is a “for pay” subscription database, and since I wasn’t logged in I couldn’t see the detail any ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 28, 2007 in • General
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Katrina, 2 years later

An ongoing entry of Katrina and Oral history.

All day recording of oral histories: “The Historic New Orleans Collection and the New Orleans Fire Department celebrate Oral History Day, collecting stories from those who were assisted by the Fire Department during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina, Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Collection, 533 Royal St.”

Do you know what it means: “After Katrina, the School of Visual Arts in New York created the Web site This collaborative, educational effort strives to collect the untold stories of New Orleans residents by chronicling and preserving photographs, videos, family histories, interviews and other artifacts in an accessible and public digital archive.”

Voices After The Storm: A Memoir of Katrina: Joshua Clark was in the French Quarter during the storm, afterwards, he recorded his own thoughts and conversations with others, which is collected in this memoir called Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone.

Dave Eggers does Oral ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • HistoryOral History Projects
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Letters in the Attic: Not digital, but analog

I have a bunch of letters to my grandparents that date from 1906(!!) to 1940s. I considered how to process them digitally. Should I scan? Should I play with metadata? I did a test of scanning, during one of the scanfests. Feh. Too much trouble, given the volume of letters and the amount of time each one takes. I decided to do good old fashioned manual index-card method to keep track of the letters. Here’s the method I’ve devised.

I’m going with analog for several reasons. I want to work in a comfortable chair, away from the computer. I feel as though the task of designing a database would take up too much overhead, making me focus far more on my tools than the letters.

Here’s my work process for going through the letters: Notebook, index cards, letter, pen, pencil, reading glasses.


Metadata, manually described.

Even with my manual index card method, I needed to think about what to put on the cards. Here’s my list of metadata:

  • Postmark date
  • Postmark place
  • From Whom (and where)
  • To Whom (and where)
  • Date of letter, if it differs from postmark by too much
  • A physical description of the contents (3 sheets, ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Personal History
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Family historian or genealogist?

Jasia ponders the differences between personal historian and genealogist. I’m glad she did. I’ve been a sometime participant in the carnival of genealogy, but sometimes have felt shades of sham (note: I said sham, not shame!) because I’m not doing research into who begat whom and when. Partly it’s because others in my family have done so. I am far more interested in the stories, the histories. So I’m a Family Historian. There. Glad we got that settled.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 24, 2007 in • GenealogyPersonal History
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Tribal Linguistic History using Digital Tools

Chuksani-speaking Native Americans preserve language using military-tech translators. This is what happens when speakers of a nearly extinct language get their hands on the latest DoD-inspired smart electronic gadgets. [via Dangerousmeta]

Jane Wyatt, 62, of Coarsegold, and her sister, Holly, 65, were among six tribal members who gathered Friday across the street from the Picayune Rancheria’s busy Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold to try out a newly acquired “Phraselator.”

The electronic translator was developed just a few years ago from technology used for military translators, said Don Thornton of Thornton Media Inc., based in Banning. Thornton Media is working with 70 tribes in the United States and Canada to preserve native languages, he said.

“What’s my name?” he asked the box in his hand. He pressed another button and it replied in what Thornton said was Chukchansi.

The Wyatt sisters learned the ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Digitality
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Compact Disc celebrates 25th birthday

First discs rolled off presses August 17, 1982. So, if digital lasts forever.. or 5 years, whichever comes first, CDs may (may!) last forever.

The news story follows the way that CDs changed the music industry.. the rise.. and, with other digital formats, the fall. But the part that interests me the most are the techno-geeky deets about how the CD came to be, well, the CD:

Yet it had been a risky technical endeavor to attempt to bring digital audio to the masses, said Pieter Kramer, the head of the optical research group at Philips’ labs in the Netherlands in the 1970s.

“When we started there was nothing in place,” he told The Associated Press at Philips’ corporate museum in Eindhoven.

The proposed semiconductor chips needed for CD players were to be the most advanced ever used in a consumer product. And the lasers were ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 16, 2007 in • AudioAudio: HardwareDigitality
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